A screenshot of the GM Chevy Volt ad I saw on Hulu. 

If you’re like me and most Americans, you probably see an advertisement for a car at least once a day. In an ad I watched on Hulu tonight, it appears GM filmed someone who takes buses and trains (or rides her bike) to sell people on the Chevy Volt.

The woman (the ad’s overlay text makes it seem like she’s a real owner) says, “I don’t event know what it’s like to stop and get gas” and “I am probably going to the gas station about once a month, probably less”.

With a car that only gets 35 MPG city, 40 MPG highway,* and has a range of 379 miles, she must be taking the bus for all those other trips she has to make each month! Or she walks to work each day and bikes to the grocery store on weekends. Or she just rarely leaves the house. But I don’t think the ad implies any of these things: instead it’s telling viewers that this automobile has amazing gas mileage (the ad never mentions it has an electric motor component).

The “average American” makes 3.79 trips per day with an average trip length of 9.75 miles. If this Volt driver was that average person, she would be driving 1,108.58 miles every 30 days. And her car doesn’t have that much range. It has a third of that.

She might have bad memory, though, about visiting gas stations.

The Toyota Prius, for comparison, gets 51 MPG city, 48 MPG highway,* and starts at $7,000 less.

* These are only estimates. The Chevy Volt gets 94 MPGe when running on purely the electric motors.

N.B. The Chevy Volt website shows a photo of the car in the position where it will spend most of the time: parked. I appreciate that accuracy!